Fight Disease

Glaucoma in Dogs – Your Complete E-Guide

Glaucoma in dogs is a painful condition caused by increased pressure (intraocular pressure – IOP) inside the eye. To best understand glaucoma in dogs, you really need to know more about your dog’s eye anatomy. Don’t worry. I won’t bore you to tears (pun intended).

There are 3 categories of canine glaucoma including primary, secondary (most common), and congenital. Unlike the type of glaucoma you or I might get, canine glaucoma is much more likely to cause blindness. By the time you’re finished reading this post, you’ll understand why.

Disclaimer:  I am not a veterinarian so please don’t take my word for anything related to your dog’s health. Always consult with a licensed professional. Please read my disclaimer and privacy policies.

Affiliate links may be present in this post. All it means is that if you click on a link, I get paid a small amount of money at no extra cost to you.

Let’s take a look inside your dog’s eyeball:


Glaucoma in Dogs – The Ciliary Body

The ciliary body plays an important role because it:

  • • produces the fluid that keeps the shape of the eye (if it didn’t, you’d have a deflated eyeball)
    • provides vital nutrients and oxygen through the fluid it produces (known as aqueous humor)
    • suspends the eye’s lens in place

The image over here makes it a little easier to picture.



Glaucoma in dogs - Your Complete eGuide

In a healthy eye, the liquid drains back into the dog’s system through an opening between the cornea and the iris. The ciliary body does its own thing within the eye itself, working hard to maintain a healthy equilibrium.

Still can’t picture it?

Imagine overfilling a water balloon. The balloon is going to get larger and larger, creating pressure and compromising the balloon’s integrity. The same thing happens to the dog’s eye when normal drainage cannot take place.

This strain and pressure within the eye can eventually damage the optic nerve (and ganglion cells), causing blindness. Systemically, it’s thought that the increased intra-ocular pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which then results in a loss of retinal ganglion cells.


Retinal Ganglion Cells

These cells (neurons) transmit image-forming and non-image forming communication between the retina and the brain. Each ganglion cell receives visual information from photo receptors.

I’m just going to come out and say that I don’t totally understand all of the complicated workings of each ganglion cell. As I mentioned above, I’m not a veterinarian. From what I can gather, however, these cells are an important part of the informational highway to the brain. They manage pupil function and transmit visual information.


Glaucoma in Dogs - Your Complete E-Guide

Wouldn’t it be great if a pair of glasses was all it took to cure glaucoma in dogs?









Intra-ocular Pressure (IOP)

Both the optic nerve and retinal ganglion cells are damaged by the intra-ocular pressure of glaucoma in dogs. The damage caused typically results in partial or complete blindness.


Normal IOP in Dogs

Normal pressure in dogs ranges between 10 and 20 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). Pressures ranging between 30 and even 50 mmHg has been represented in dogs with glaucoma.


LEARN HOW TO HELP YOUR VISION-IMPAIRED DOG!  Just type your email address in the box below this post to get your free Home Guide for Visually Impaired Dogs!








2016 STUDY:

An article written by Paul E. Miller, DVM, and Ellison Bentley, DVM, (published November, 2015, in Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice) reports that damage to the optical nerve or associated tissues can actually begin long before intra-ocular pressure (IOP) increases. The significance is that glaucoma in dogs isn’t all about pressure damaging the optic nerve. It might be one characteristic of the disease, but it’s not necessarily the whole picture.


Have a look at this short video from a woman who adopted a blind dog.  It’s sweet!



Primary and Secondary Glaucoma in Dogs

  • Primary Glaucoma

Primary glaucoma in dogs is thought to be an inherited condition in which fluid does not drain normally. It’s typically seen in specific breeds (listed below) between the ages of 5 and 6 years, or in much older dogs. This type of glaucoma in dogs is usually caused by what’s known as “closed angle” glaucoma; however, (rarely) it can also be caused by open angle glaucoma.

Scroll down further for descriptions of open and closed angle glaucoma.

Acute primary glaucoma can come on suddenly. What that happens, it is considered a medical emergency. If the eye isn’t treated immediately, loss of vision is likely.


Since primary glaucoma is considered genetic, there’s a strong likelihood that both eyes will be affected by the disease. There is no cure for glaucoma in dogs. Medical treatment involves reducing the pain caused by increased pressure in the eye. It’s also important to follow protocol in maintaining the health of the other eye for as long as possible. More information below.


  • Primary Closed Angle Glaucoma in Dogs (most common of the primary glaucoma type)

There are a lot of complicated medical terms to describe this process, but – essentially – the drainage angle becomes blocked by the iris. Primary glaucoma is caused by genetic defects that affect the eye. Once the fluid is trapped inside, pressure (inter-ocular pressure or IOP) builds quickly within the eye. Veterinarians refer to this as “acute glaucoma”, which is a medical emergency.

When this happens, there is a very high chance that your dog will go blind in the affected eye.
If you’re up for some serious medical jargon, check out this article at Veterinarian Medical Center of Long Island website.


  • Primary Open Angle Glaucoma in Dogs (least common)

This type is considered a genetic mutation causing the build-up of pressure within the eye. The condition prevents the fluid (aqueous humor) produced by the ciliary body from draining naturally. As a result, death occurs within the ganglion cells.  As mentioned above, this isn’t particularly common, especially if breeders are carefully selecting dogs based on accurate DNA testing.

As promised, here is a list of dog breeds at risk of genetically acquired glaucoma:



Cocker Spaniel
Basset Hound
Chow Chow
Shar Pei
Jack Russell Terrier
Shi Tzu
Norweigan Elkhound
Alaskan Malamute
English Cocker Spaniel
American Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel
Flat Coated Retrievers
Giant Shnauzer
Boston Terrier
Siberian Husky
Smooth-haired Fox Terrier
Bull Mastiff
Italian Greyhound
Welsh Springer
Miniature Pinscher
Wire-haired Fox Terrier

Please note that in the list of breeds above, some dogs are more prone to glaucoma than others. It doesn’t mean that every dog in the list will get glaucoma.


You might also be interested in reading Wisdom Dog DNA Tests vs Embark Dog DNA Tests 2018



This particular type of glaucoma works the same way, in that there is increased pressure within the eye. The causes, however, are typically due to disease (cancer, for example) or eye injuries.

  • • Uveutis

This is the medical term for the inflammation of the eye’s interior. Debris and scar tissue end up blocking the drainage angle in this case.

  • • Tumors/Cancer

If tumors are present within the eye, they can cause blockage of the drainage angle.

  • • Dislocation of the Lens

In this situation, the lens actually tips forward and blocks the drainage angle. This is another scenario in which fluid keeps going in, but has no way of getting out.

  • • Blood Clot

This is known as intra-ocular bleeding in which a blood clot blocks the drainage area.

  • • Lens Injury

If the dog’s eye is seriously damaged, the lens proteins begin leaking into the eye. This creates an inflammatory condition. The swelling then blocks the drainage angle.


The Difficulty Associated with Early Diagnosis

It can be difficult to notice early signs of glaucoma in dogs. Unless it’s acute, the disease can progress slowly and the symptoms noticed can be passed off as a condition of ageing.  Your dog obviously can’t tell you about the pain, and unless he/she actually has a bulging eye or is really rubbing the area, you could easily miss the signs.


Secondary glaucoma in dogs is usually associated with increasing age.


The most common signs of glaucoma in dogs are:

  • Eye pain

Some dogs do a pretty good job of hiding discomfort and others might begin pawing at the area immediately. If your dog moves his/her head away from you when you try to get close, or appears to be guarding or protecting the face, have it checked out by a licensed veterinarian!

  • Eye discharge

My golden retriever seems to have naturally watery eyes that causes a dark stain on her fur. If there were a problem with her eye, the discharge would increase and become much more obvious. Along with this, your dog might seem “down” or have the blues. Remember, glaucoma in dogs is a painful condition.

  • Off-Color

Take a second to look into your dog’s eyes. Do the corneas look grey, colorless, or even blue-tinged? If so, get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Swelling

This is going to be pretty noticeable. As the disease advances, you’re going to see one, or both, of your dog’s eyes bulging. It might not be a lot, but you’ll notice a difference.

Other signs include:

  • • Blinking a lot.
  • • Reddened blood vessels
  • • Dilated pupil
  • • Pupil that doesn’t respond to light
  • • Partial or complete blindness in one eye.


Making the Diagnosis of Glaucoma in Dogs

Veterinarians have a variety of tools used in the diagnosis of glaucoma in dogs.

  • Tonometer

A tonometer is an instrument that measures pressure within the dog’s eye to determine the presence of glaucoma. This can be done without the use of anesthesia. To do the test, the veterinary ophthalmologist places a device on the eye to measure the amount of pressure.

  •  Gonioscopy

In this case, a special contact lens-like prism is placed on the eye to evaluate how the internal drainage system is working. In particular, this device is able to see how well the anterior chamber angle is performing.

Of course, the veterinarian will do a simple physical examination as well. This involves looking at the eyes for signs of redness, inflammation, eye discoloration, and a test for vision.


Treatment Options for Glaucoma in Dogs

Here’s where things really get tricky. Once the veterinarian has diagnosed glaucoma (whether primary or secondary), the first thing that needs to be done is to remove pressure ASAP. The quicker pressure is released, the less damage is done to the optic nerve. In addition, the release of pressure reduces pain.

Note: Opening the drain and keeping it open in animals is difficult and costly. Most people opt for medicine that helps reduce the fluid build-up.

Surgical removal of the eye (called enucleation) is typically reserved for end-stage glaucoma where blindness has occurred or is imminent.

There are several treatment options. The problem is the expense, commitment to lifelong treatment, and the fact that eventually, even the good eye will succumb. Eventual blindness is almost guaranteed.


 Treatment options include:

  1. medicated eye drops
  2. stress management
  3. change to using a harness rather than a neck collar
  4. surgery to remove the eye

Medicated Eye Drops

Glaucoma eye drops and pills are expensive and are usually used to preserve sight in the unaffected eye for as long as possible. They are also used temporarily in dogs waiting for surgery.


Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This involves using lifetime therapies using canine antioxidant vision supplements. There are a variety of available supplements (ask your veterinarian for a recommendation). These supplements typically contain:

• amino acids
• vitamins
• lutein
• Omega 3 fatty acids
• lycopene
• and other combinations of antioxidants

If the dog has gone completely blind in that eye, you still have a few options. Some people prefer to have the eye removed and the area stitched. It’s important to understand that regardless of whether the dog has vision or not, that eye is still going to cause pressure and intense pain.


Other Medical Treatment Options include:

  • -artificial lens and a drainage device (not normally done because of the high price and complication of the procedure)
  • -insert an implant into the eye socket then stitch the lids shut. This helps to maintain the shape of the eye socket so that the dog doesn’t wind up with a sunken look.
  • -injection of a drug into the eye socket. This drug is designed to kill the fluid-producing cells. Doing this helps to keep the overall pressure down which would reduce the dog’s pain.
  • -Laser surgery is done only when the surgeon believes there is a reasonably strong chance that the dog will have vision in that eye for a while.
  • -remove the eye and replace with a black ball that serves as a device to keep the eye socket in shape and remove the chance of a sunken in appearance later on.
  • -The blind eye is replaced with a colorless ball that makes it look as if the dog still has a working eye. REMEMBER: You can’t leave the blind eye in the socket because the pressure is still going to be there. That pressure causes significant pain.

Glaucoma in dogs is a long-term, painful, and expensive condition. As long as the dog lives, he/she will require antioxidant vision supplements to slow down the progress of the other eye, frequent intra-ocular pressure measurements, and topical or oral medications to help lower fluid production.


Types of Medication Used for Glaucoma in Dogs


These drugs work by drawing fluid from the eye.

• B-Blockers

Beta Blockers help by reducing blood pressure.

• Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

This class of drug works by decreased the production of fluid from the ciliary body. If you’ll remember from earlier, this fluid is called aqueous humor.


Cholinergics (Miotics) work by reducing eye pressure. To do this, the drug supports increased drainage of intraocular fluid.


This eye drop is used for open angled glaucoma and works by increased the outflow of fluid from the eye.


SURGERY – When blindness is inevitable

When or if your dog loses his/her sight, you will have even bigger decisions to make. 


  • Cyclodestruction

This type of surgery generally utilizes a laser to reduce the production of aqueous humor. Unfortunately, this type of surgery (because it is non-invasive) isn’t able to determine exactly how much the ciliary body has been destroyed. A lens implant is usually required post-surgery in order to prevent cataracts from forming later on.


  • Surgery to Increase Aqueous Humor Outflow

Shunts can be used through an implant and tubing that permits the fluid to drain effectively from the anterior chamber. This is a difficult procedure not proven to affect a positive long-term outcome. There are several possible complications associated with this surgery as well.


  • Enucleation

Depending on financial status and the type of aesthetic outcome desired, people generally choose this option because of it is effective and much less expensive. Essentially, this involves removing the eyeball. A prosthesis can be inserted to improve the appearance and, by removing the eye, your dog is relieved of pain.


  • Intrascleral Prosthesis

A silicon ball is inserted within the eye resulting in a better appearance and few complications. It’s thought to have a 95% success rate.

  • Chemical Ablation

An injection of gentamicin (antibiotic) and dexamethasone (corticosteroid) is inserted directly into the ciliary body. Complications could include eye inflammation and retinal detachment.


When It’s NOT Canine Glaucoma


Nuclear Sclerosis

Nuclear sclerosis is a common condition in ageing dogs that does not affect vision and does not require treatment. It’s different from cataracts. Cataracts occur behind the lens and block the veterinarian’s view of the retina.

The bottom line is that if you notice redness and some discoloration in your dog’s eyes, it doesn’t necessarily mean he/she has glaucoma. Glaucoma is very painful, can come on very quickly (acute) in which case it is imperative to seek veterinarian attention. He/she will want to reduce that fluid build-up ASAP.

Under normal circumstances, your dog’s eyes can become irritated or infected from any number of things. In most of these cases, medicated drops work well. Mild infections and irritations are not going to threaten your dog’s vision. In rare cases where you totally ignore what’s happening and the infection gets worse…you’ll have a problem. But who does that?


Dogs DO Adjust to Vision Loss

People are surprised to learn that dogs bounce back very quickly. Partial or even total blindness can be overcome with a little patience and preparation around the house.

-Enable sound cues
-tactile cues
-scent cues
-lots of talk direction
-maintain routine
-create awareness so that other people treat the dog accordingly
-close off any danger zones (for example, stairs with baby gate)


LEARN HOW TO HELP YOUR VISION-IMPAIRED DOG!  Just type your email address in the box below this post to get your free Home Guide for Visually Impaired Dogs.







DID YOU KNOW? Dogs have about 300 million scent receptors compared to our 6 million?

MYTH: Blindness does not cause other senses to become heightened. The disabled dog (or person) has to rely on the other senses for survival and, therefore, pay particular attention to those senses more. It doesn’t mean that they have become heightened in any way.

Enter your email in the box below to get your free copy of Home Guide to Visually Disabled Dogs!

13 Life-Saving Reasons For Parvo Shots in Dogs

I was in my 30’s when I got my first puppy, and I knew that vaccinations, including parvo shots, were a must.  I didn’t realize that some of the viruses could literally be right beneath my feet.  In fact, three dogs reported to the veterinarian with symptoms of parvo virus and each puppy had recently been near a corner-store I often frequented.  I didn’t know this at the time, but the parvo virus is shed through feces and can last in the environment for almost a year.

Even if your dog has already had the parvo shots, or you feel pretty well informed on the topic, I urge you to take another look. Remind friends and family (and anti-vaxxers) that parvo shots are part of the core vaccination program. The risks of vaccination is much lower than the risk of contracting deadly viruses like parvo.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a veterinarian, nor do I play one on TV. I am, however, a dog lover with a desire to help owners understand the complicated issues that can affect the health of their dogs. Do not take my word for it, though!  Always take your dog to a licensed veterinarian for the best opinion and suggestions.

AMAZON AFFILIATE:  You should know that this site may contain affiliate links. These links don’t hurt you in any way, if you decide to click on one, I will receive a small monetary reward for that.  It doesn’t hurt you in any way, but helps me to build this blog by increasing traffic.


13 Life-Saving Reasons for Parvo Shots in Dogs

  1. Newborn puppies are born with antibodies that protect them from the illness. They will not need parvo shots until they are around 6 weeks old. As the immunity wears off, your puppy becomes increasingly vulnerable to the deadly virus.
  2. Dogs who have not had the parvo shots and contract the virus can be dead within three or four days of onset of symptoms.  Symptoms of parvo include bloody diarrhea, sudden vomiting, loss of appetite.

13 Life-Saving Reasons for Parvo Shots


Separation Anxiety? Fear? Biting? Over-protective dog?

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3. Puppies can carry the parvo virus around anywhere from 3 to 10 days without showing any symptoms at all. In fact, some puppies have been known to collapse and die before showing any symptoms at all!

4. Puppies have immature immune systems. Without parvo shots, they are at extreme risk of falling ill. The more dogs that are not vaccinated means the risk increases.

5. Parvo shots are safe and effective.  Your puppy might have a little lump at the site of the injection. He might even feel a little sleepy for a day or two.  It’s a much better outcome than the parvo virus.

6. It’s estimated that approximately 15% of puppies with parvo virus will die. Even those dogs who survive will likely suffer chronically weakened immune systems or other conditions throughout his life.

7. The parvo virus is shed through feces and is easy to pick up in dog parks, walkways, the beach, and your own back yard. If a dog carrying parvo has been in your house, that virus could remain there for up to 7 months.  The only thing known to actually kill the virus on surfaces is bleach.

8. The administration of parvo shots was introduced after the virus mutated from the feline version of distemper. I’m not a scientist, or a veterinarian, but if the virus could mutate from one virus to another, isn’t it possible that – if left unchecked – the virus could mutate again?

9. It’s important for puppies to be socialized early so that they learn how to interact with humans and other animals. Without the benefit of parvo shots, however, you’re only putting your dog at extreme risk

10. Lack of funds is no excuse to avoid parvo shots. These days, there are organizations that offer low-cost vaccinations. For example, The Animal Foundation and Vetco offer low-cost services. In fact, Vetco offers a mobile service for pet owners.

11. Bringing your puppy to get parvo shots (along with the other core, recommended vaccines) makes you a good environmental citizen.  Don’t put other small animals at risk, especially your own!

12. Certain breeds such as English Springer Spaniels, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers have a higher risk if they contract the parvo virus. It’s thought that these particular breeds may develop a much more severe disease.

13. Puppies who receive parvo shots enjoy the benefit of long-term immunity.


Separation Anxiety? Fear? Biting? Over-protective dog?

Enter your email address in the form believe to be notified of upcoming canine behavior courses made just for you!


More Facts About Parvo in Dogs

Canine parvovirus (CPV-2) was first recognized in 1978. It’s thought the disease mutated from a closely related virus found in cats:  feline panleukopaenia virus.  Parvo in dogs is considered a deadly, endemic disease, which is why it’s considered vital that dogs receive parvo shots.

Not all puppies with the parvo virus will die; however, it has to be treated very quickly the minute the first signs of the disease become evident. Unfortunately, not all puppies show signs of the disease and die before the cause is discovered.

According to the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Symposium, puppies who survive the first three or four days of the disease tend to make a full recovery.  In order to save the puppy, he/she must be treated for shock. Because of the severe vomiting and diarrhea, the puppy will also need to be hydrated immediately.


Recommended Schedule for Parvo Shots

  • Puppies should receive the first parvo shots at around 6 weeks of age. After that, they continue to receive parvo shots every 3 to 4 weeks.  The final dose would occur at 16 weeks.
  • If a puppy was never vaccinated, the now-adult dog should receive two parvo shots 3 to 4 weeks apart although it’s thought that even just one vaccination could provide enough protection.
  • Dogs should receive one booster after one year from the initial inoculation.
  • Re-vaccination is recommended every 3 years thereafter.


Now that you have this information on the importance of parvo shots, I hope you’ll share through social media.  Make sure you come back; in fact, rather than miss out on important topics that could improve your dog’s health, why not sign up for the newsletter below?  Get on the list and you’ll be the first to know when canine behavior courses come your way!

Thanks for reading!  Forget the boring bio below….read about the true me at this link:  LISA



11 Clinical Side-Effects of the Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

Mention the side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs within a crowd, and you’ll immediately divide the group into those for it, and those against it. It’s easy to worry about the side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs, when all you can find are sensationalized stories.

If you’ve ever had the flu shot, you might know what it feels like to end up with a lump where the injection was given. My arm hurts for a day or two after a vaccination, but it clears up pretty fast. 

It’s pretty much the same for dogs.  There’s a good chance your dog will experience mild side-effects and – yes – rarely, serious side-effects occur. Now, I’m going to show you the most common side-effects and a little on the more severe problems that can occur.


Common Side-Effects of the Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

The first 8 side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs, include:

1.Discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site.

It makes sense! Vaccinations are normally given as injections and whenever you stick a needle through skin, it’s going to get a little aggravated. This is temporary and is not harmful at all.

The poor dog in the next image looks a little put-out but none worse for wear after a rabies vaccination.


2. Mild Fever.

It’s not unusual for dogs to develop a mild fever after a vaccination.  Although vaccines do not contain live disease, they do create a temporary immune-response that tells the dog’s body, “Hey, let’s get busy fighting this new thing.”

As a result, the dog’s antibodies increase and the body learns how to fight the disease. That’s why we vaccinate, so dogs (and people) develop an immunity to dangerous viruses.


3. Nope – Not Hungry Mom.

Because of the sudden reaction of antibodies to “get to work”, the body slows down other functions including desire to eat. Dog’s bodies are no less phenomenal than our own.  Their systems know when to settle down so that the other important things happening can take effect.  It doesn’t take long, however, for your pooch to resume treat-begging.


4. No Thanks Mom. No Catching the Ball Today.

Of course you’d be worried if your dog suddenly decided he didn’t want to do his favorite activity! However, if your dog just had a rabies vaccination, there’s nothing to worry about. Let him sleep it off! By the next morning, you’re going to see a big difference in his/her energy. This is a common occurrence.


5. Mom! I’m All Dubbed Up!

Symptoms that resemble the common cold frequently occur after a rabies vaccination. Your dog might start sneezing, develop a mild cough, or even have a runny nose. Don’t forget this one because it could take up to 5 days for these types of symptoms to appear. By then, you might have forgotten all about the vaccine!  Don’t worry. These side-effects are not serious and will go away quickly.



6. Is That a Marble Under Your Skin or Did You Just Get Vaccinated?

Needles hurt a little bit and, because they pierce the skin, often develop a little swelling at the site of the injection  It makes sense.  Again, this is a common symptom and nothing to worry about.


7. Vomiting Over and Over and Over Again.

If your dog starts vomiting frequently after a rabies vaccination (or any vaccination), bring him/her to the vet.


8. Your Dog Can’t Stop Itching!

We’ve all seen dogs writhe around on their backs, blissfully getting that itchy spot. The difference with this, is that the dog will become frantically itchy. His/her skin will develop hives on the skin.


9. Face, neck or eye swelling.

If you’ve ever seen anybody suffer from anaphylaxis because of a peanut allergy or a bee sting, you’ll have a pretty good idea what this looks like. If you notice any facial swelling after a vaccination, don’t hesitate to bring your dog to the veterinarian. This can be treated, but it can’t be ignored. Ever seen anybody suffer from anaphylaxis because of a peanut allergy or a bee sting, you’ll have a pretty good idea what this looks like. If you notice any facial swelling after a vaccination, don’t hesitate to bring your dog to the veterinarian. This can be treated, but it can’t be ignored.


10. Severe coughing.

Again, this sort of rabies vaccination side-effect is rare. You might notice a slight cough along with other respiratory symptoms (sneezing, runny nose) up to 5 days post-vaccination. However, if the coughing becomes aggressive, you should take your dog to the veterinarian for evaluation.


11. Difficulty breathing.

If your dog is having difficulty breathing, you’ll see it in the rise and fall of his/her chest cavity. Your dog will be distressed and might paw at his/her mouth. As your dog tries to take in more oxygen, it might sound like he/she is coughing. This could go hand-in-hand with the symptom above.

The bottom line is that vaccinations in people and dogs are considered safe. Yes, there will always be some sort of risk when injecting medications into our bodies. That said, diseases like rabies are absolutely fatal and the risk of the vaccination far outweighs the deadly disease.

“Vaccination is a barbarous practice and one of the most fatal of all the delusions current in our time.

Conscientious objectors to vaccination should stand alone, if need be, against the whole world, in defense of their conviction.
Mahatma Gandhi

The Anti-Vaxxers Are Wrong!

Unfortunately, there is an entire social community with an anti-vaccine agenda. That’s one of the perks of living in a developed country. The reason we’re not dying from previously fatal and infectious disease is because vaccinations have eradicated them.

A few of the myths about vaccinations include:


  • vaccinations use live-cultures that cause disease

None of the vaccinations approved for use in Canada and the United States use live cultures in their products.

  • vaccinations are full of harmful, toxic substances

Technically, there are some substances that – in clinically significant doses – might pose a threat. The reality is that things like Thimerosol (which is 50% mercury) makes up what amounts to the amount of mercury in a 3 ounce can of tuna. You’re not afraid of a little tuna are you?

  • vaccinations weaken the immune system

Weakening the immune system, in the clinical sense, consists of a long-term condition that leaves your dog vulnerable to a host of infectious disease and bacteria.  When a dog has a vaccine, his/her immune system builds antibodies that learn to fight deadly disease. Your dog might appear mildly sick (cold symptoms), but it isn’t from a “weakened immune system”.


Rabies is Fatal in Human Beings

If you’re thinking about not having your dog vaccinated, consider this:

Rabies vaccination of dogs is required by law in most states. In Canada, the rabies vaccination is only required in Ontario. That said, all ethical veterinarians will encourage the vaccination, especially in populations at greater risk. That population would include dogs that are more likely to encounter wildlife (rural areas).

Try out the lifestyle-based vaccine calculator. It was created by the AAHA and should give you a clearer picture on what you should do.

The smartest thing you can do for your dog is not listen to the rhetoric. Get solid facts from your veterinarian, or online through reputable sites.

Your Complete Guide to Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy

As a dog owner, I know how hard it is to find fast information on the things I worry about the most. If my dog were diagnosed with diabetes, I would want to know two thing: what is a diabetic dog life expectancy, and what will my dog’s quality of life be.

The Complicated Answers of Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy

The answer to your question about life expectancy relies on two factors:

  • Catching the disease early
  • Commitment to lifelong treatment and care.

I’m going to give you the answers to both of these questions, and so much more. This article will give you a sound understanding of the diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management of canine diabetes.  In fact, there are actually two answers to the question on diabetic dog life expectancy, and I am going to explain both answers in detail.

Identifying Dogs At Risk of Developing Diabetes

Dogs considered “at risk” of developing diabetes mellitus are generally:

  • Over-weight
  • Have an overall poor diet
  • Don’t get enough exercise

If diabetes is caught early, dog diabetes life expectancy prognosis is very good. In fact, prognosis is considered excellent for early diagnosis. However, the long-term expectation is owner-compliance with treatment and regular follow-up care.

In order to do that, you will need to bring your dog for regular screening. Maintain regularly scheduled check-ups before signs and symptoms become obvious.

Regularly Scheduled Check-ups Could Mean the Difference in Quality of Life and Overall Life Expectancy

I’d be wrong to suggest that regular check-ups aren’t important, but I understanding why it’s not always done.  Unless your dog has other conditions that make it necessary, you might not be in the habit of bringing your dog in until you strongly suspect there’s a problem.

I get it!  I do the same thing.  Except now, I look at my dog and worry that she has all of the following risk factors of developing diabetes:

  • She’s overweight
  • She doesn’t get nearly as much as exercise as she should
  • She’s not old…but at seven, she’s not a puppy either.

The truth is, if you can nab diabetes in the early stages of the disease, your dog will likely go on to lead a full and happy life. On the flip side, ignored signs and symptoms will likely lead to organ damage and a shortened life span.

What To Look For Before Diabetes Takes Over Your Dog’s Health

The early-warning signs of diabetes that you don’t want to miss include:

  • frequent urination
  • excessive thirst
  • excessive appetite
  • sudden, unexplained weight loss.

Denial is a wonderful way to protect ourselves from a painful truth.” –LATheriault

Unfortunately, there comes a time when the facts outweigh the fantasy. I’ve done it myself. You see your dog every day, and it’s easy to “not see” the subtle signs. This is when it’s time to realistically assess diabetic dog life expectancy.

Personally, I know that it’s time to bring my dog for a check-up. I can’t explain it, but something isn’t just right. I’m sure you understand. We work, have families, obligations, and other responsibilities. The truth is, we owe it to our dogs (our faithful companions) to give them the attention and care they deserve.

View the Twitter link below for current updates on breed specific diabetes.

As show in the twitter link above, there are certain breeds susceptible to canine diabetes.

Advanced Signs of Diabetes – Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy

  • personality change
  • excessive panting
  • drastic change in appetite
  • sudden weight loss
  • fatigue
  • dehydration
  • urinary tract infections
  • fruity-smelling breath (ketoacidosis)

German Shepherd

The Damaging Ocular Affects of Diabetes in Dogs

There is a similarity between dogs and humans with diabetes. Permanent organ damage can occur if diabetes is not treated.

However, the big difference is in the amount of time it takes these detrimental affects to take place.  If I had diabetes, it would take 10 to 20 years to develop serious eye complications. It only takes 12 to 18 months, however, for a dog to develop similar issues.


  • Diabetic Retinopathy – Vascular Disease

Dogs with diabetes have the potential to  also known asdiabetic eye disease”.  Consistently high blood sugar damages blood vessels within the body, particularly in the eye.

Four Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy:

  • Mild 

Detected through an ocular exam that identifies swelling within the blood vessels of the eye.

  • Moderate

Blood vessels become blocked.

  • Severe Nonprolific

An increase in blocked blood vessels leads to blocked blood flow to parts of the retina.

  • Proliferative 

New, but weakened, blood vessels grow back, but will leak blood causing vision loss.

The image below is an example of what cataracts will look like in your dog. Notice that bluish, cloudy area in the center of the eye. 

  • Cataracts

The eye lens contains water and protein. As we age, those proteins sometimes clump together and get hard over time.  Vision loss occurs when these proteins harden and spread.  Dogs have similar risk-factors for cataracts, especially in a dog diagnosed with diabetes.

Just because your dog has cataracts doesn’t mean he/she also has diabetes. However, if your dog has diabetes, there’s a high chance he/she will develop cataracts. The main sign that your dog has cataracts is a cloudy, bluish tinge to the eye. Your dog will show signs of vision loss as the cataracts 


  • Uveitus

Uveitus is a painful inflammation of the middle eye layer. Dogs have three eye layers including the outer layer (cornea), the innermost layer (retina), and the uvea which is the middle layer. This layer consists of blood vessels and inflammation of this part can lead to blindness.

If your dog has uveitus, he may squint a lot. The eyes will be red and the pupil might look unusually shaped. There will likely be tearing and possibly discharge coming from the eye.


  • Retinal Lesions

After extended swelling of the eye, retinal lesions (small tears) can lead to retinal detachment.


A Case Study in Considering Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy

An abstract cited by I.P. Herring from The Journal of Veterinary Medicine, reported how 17 client-owned dogs were monitored. Each dog had been diagnosed with diabetes less than a year earlier.

The dogs were evaluated once every six months for a total of two years. During that time, each dog was tested for:

  • blood pressure
  • urine albumen (a protein found in the blood, but not normally in the urine)
  • protein and creatinine concentrations (elevated creatinine concentrations signify kidney damage)
  • serial blood glucose (the amount of sugar in the blood)
  • serum fructosamine concentrations (high concentrations indicate long-term elevation of blood sugar which helps determine disease progression)

Diabetic dog life expectancy

Results of the study

73% of the dogs showed moderately high levels of albumen (called microalbuminuria), and 55% showed an elevated urine protein:creatinine ratio.

It’s interesting to note that only 20% of the dogs showed signs of retinopathy (vascular disease of the eye). The study did not include dogs with cataracts.  Therefore, it is possible that the number of dogs with retinopathy was greater than originally thought.

Early diagnosis is the key to a good diabetic dog life expectancy prognosis.


Diabetes Mellitus Since The Age of The Eygptians

Diabetes goes as far back as the Egyptians (at least). A translated manuscript describes a condition similar to Type 1 diabetes where people suffered from “great emptying of the urine”. That clinical description is significant with symptoms of diabetes.

The word “madhumeha” translates to “honey urine”, a term coined in the fifth century by Indian physicians.  The term signifies the presence of glycosuria in diabetic patients.

Non-healing wounds are treated immediately due to the risk of gangrene.  The first physician to describe gangrene as a complication of diabetes was Avicenna, a Persian polymath (meaning a person with a wide-range of knowledge).


The 4 Types of Diabetes in Dogs

There is a difference between diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Diabetes Insipidus is an uncommon disease caused by the kidneys’ inability to regulate fluid in the body. In addition, it’s important to recognize other types of diabetes that can affect dogs.

Diabetes mellitus is a condition where the pancreas cannot create enough insulin to battle the excess of sugar in the blood. Insulin is a naturally-occurring hormone that helps the body use food for energy.

Consider insulin the “helper”. In a healthy body, insulin helps sugar get into blood cells. When this happens, the body is able to convert that sugar into energy. Without insulin, the sugar has nowhere to go and builds up in the blood.

Diabetes insipidus is a condition caused by the body’s inability to use a hormone called vasopressin, or antidiuretic hormone. This is a rare condition not seen in dogs.


Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are classifications to describe human variations of the disease. In Type 1, the pancreas stops producing insulin. In Type 2, the body continues to produce insulin, but the body’s cells can’t respond to it.
It’s rare for a dog to have diabetes insipidus.

Transient Diabetes occurs when the early-warning signs of diabetes in dogs occur and then disappear. The problem with this is that, if forgotten, diabetes can return and remain initially undetected. As stated earlier, early diagnosis is key to maintaining your dog’s quality of life and life expectancy.

Gestational Diabetes, as in humans, occurs only during pregnancy and resolves afterwards.  Pregnant dogs can develop gestational diabetes.


The Increase in Canine Diabetes

Canine diabetes is on the rise for a few reasons:

  • Canine obesity
  • Lack of proper exercise
  • Poor nutrition

Unfortunately, it’s often with regretful hindsight that we identify these risk-factors. Ideally, changes to diet and exercise occur before diabetes has a chance to develop.  A low fat/high fiber diet is beneficial for dogs with diabetes. This type of diet is thought to reduce the amount of insulin a dog needs.

Obesity is not only linked to diabetes, but can cause arthritis and other health-problems for our dogs, and ourselves.

Dogs Become Obese For Different Reasons, Including:

  • Eating too many calories
  • Owner not feeding properly
  • Not following canine feeding guidelines
  • Free feeding (keeping the bowl full at all times)
  • Too many snacks, treats, and human foods
  • Reduced activity level
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Spay/neuter


Health Risks of Obesity Above and Beyond Diabetes

In addition to diabetes, obese dogs are at a higher risk of developing:

  • hypertension
  • osteoarthritis
  • skin conditions like
  • pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • breathing problems
  • heart problems
  • shorter life expectancy


Quality of Life Reality for YOU and Your Dog

Diabetic dog life expectancy, depends on the stage of the disease. As an owner of a dog with diabetes, the onus will be on you to provide:

  • A completely new, doctor prescribed diet.
  • Severe reduction in the number of treats, snacks, and human food given to the dog.
  • Maintaining regular checkups with the veterinarian
  • Administering insulin injections on a timely basis.

There are so many things you take for granted when treating a dog with diabetes. Although the 2018 American Animal Hospital Association Diabetes Management Guidelines suggest a 2 hour difference before or after the scheduled dosage is acceptable, what happens if it’s more?

Many dog owners work for a living. That means your dog might be home alone for 8 hours or more per day. In order to adequately treat and care for a dog with diabetes, that has to change. Someone has to be around to administer the medication. In addition, whether you work or not, it’s imperative that your dog gets adequate exercise on a daily basis.

We’re happy to hear that an early diagnosis of diabetes can mean a full and happy life for our dogs, but the reality is that will only happen as a result of human due-diligence.

The following Twitter video feed describes canine diabetic cataracts.


The American Animal Hospital Association 2018 Diabetes Management Guidelines

The following is a snapshot of recent AAHA updates to the Diabetes Management Guidelines. Changes include original content from 2010 along with new guidelines. Veterinary professionals were part of this task force.

Points taken from the guidelines reflect directly on the likelihood of a dog owner being able to consistently monitor and care for a diabetic dog. Likewise, the report identified the most common medications prescribed for canine diabetes, along with dosing recommendations.


Types of Insulin Used in Dogs with Diabetes


Vetsulin (Merk Animal Health)  is approved for use in dogs and cats. Lente is an intermediate-acting drug, meaning it doesn’t work right away, and it doesn’t last as long in the dog’s system.  The lowest concentrations of the drug can be found in the dog’s body from 1 to 10 hours and the total duration of the drug is up to 24 hours.


Lente is administered by injection pen in 0.5 units or 1 unit increments.


A diabetic dog’s life expectancy hinges on the proper treatment, including proper and timely administration of insulin.

This particular product is most often used in cats with diabetes, not dogs.



PZI is another recombinant DNA insulin commonly used in humans. The FDA has not officially approved the use of this drug in dogs. It has, however, been approved for use in cats.

This long-acting drug, known by the brand name Prozinc, is commonly used in cats for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. 

This brand of insulin is occasionally used in dogs, although it has not been approved.  Generally, a starting dose of 0.25 units/kilogram is used. Dogs with difficult-to-control diabetic symptoms are given a higher dose.



NPH is another intermediate acting drug which, again, means that it doesn’t work immediately. Although not officially approved for use in dogs, options for treatment include a starting dose of 0.25 units/kilogram taken once every 12 hours.

Veterinarians who prescribe NPH should be using the lowest starting dose for a large dog and the higher dose for a smaller dog.


Adjusting Insulin Dosages for Dogs

When dog’s first begin insulin therapy, it can take a while to reach that perfect dose. Dosages are calculated on units per kilogram, with the lowest starting dose first.

During this phase, dogs are normally hospitalized for one or two days in order to begin insulin therapy under close surveillance. During this time, blood sugar levels are recorded at the time that insulin is administered. Approximately 3, 6, and 9 hours later, blood sugar levels are retested.


Insulin Sensitivity

Unfortunately, some dogs are sensitive to insulin and there’s no way of knowing how your dog will react until he/she is on the drug. In the 24 to 48 hour interval of hospitalization, doctors try to determine how much is too much, and how much insulin is not enough. The trick is to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

When hypoglycemia occurs, insulin is decreased. If the dog is experiencing hyperglycemia, a minor insulin adjustment is conducted. However, the goal during this initial phase of treatment is to:

  • reverse the metabolic damages caused by the disease
  • instruct the owner on insulin management and diet control for the dog
  • provide the owner time to get used to treating the dog at home.

NOTE: The treatment plan prescribed by the veterinarian is crucial when it comes to diabetic dog life expectancy.


How Will I Manage This New Schedule When I Get Home?

I’m not going to lie. Adjusting to a totally new routine that revolves around the health of your dog is going to be a big adjustment.  Scroll down to the bottom of this post for free access to your own diabetic management guide.   

In addition, you’re also going to need to look at an entire new diet for your dog.  One of the key indicators to diabetic dog life expectancy is in the quality of food your dog gets, and the amount of healthy exercise.

To help you with that, I’ve included a dog-diabetic-friendly recipe, along with more tips on appropriate food choices for your dog.

MEAL FOR YOUR DIABETIC DOG *watch portion size and check with the veterinarian. Rice (carbs) might be okay in small amounts – but check with the doctor first!


  • 2 cups cooked brown rice.
  • 2 cups ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 to 10,000 IU Vitamin A and B capsule
  • 1/8 tsp. iodized salt


Cook the turkey then add the oil from the capsules and mix well. Take all of the ingredients and mix together thoroughly. 


Good Food For Your Diabetic Dog


Following a diabetic friendly diet to your dogs is one of the top most important things you can do to build diabetic dog life expectancy.  Remember, as a diabetic, your dog cannot metabolize certain foods the same way that we can.

I give out too many treats, something I do as a sign of love. Now that I recognize that about myself, I’ve significantly reduced the number of treats I give to my dog.  I don’t want to be faced with the question of diabetic dog life expectancy. But, if it does happen, I know there are valuable ways to extend her life and improve her overall health.

Instead of giving my dog so many treats now, I get on the floor and spend a little time with my dog.  It’s still not the same as a treat, but I also feel as if I’m giving her the love she deserves.


The following is a list of foods your dog (all dogs) should not eat.

  • Raisins
  • Onions
  • Wheat gluten
  • Cornmeal
  • Canned food
  • fatty organ meat/skin
  • White rice
  • Chocolate
  • Wheat flour
  • Garlic
  • Baked doggy treats
  • Grapes
  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners  NOTE:  XYLITOL IS POISONOUS FOR YOUR DOG. Do not feed your dog anything with artificial sweeteners to be safe.


Buying Dog Food Brands

In my opinion, the only person you should depend on for diabetic dog food advice is the veterinarian.  Some pet supply stores have staff who are knowledgeable about the products on the shelf, but they don’t know your dog.  Like humans, every dog is different.

If you are looking for less expensive dog meals, your veterinarian can suggest high-quality recipes, products, and may even have product samples if you ask.

When looking for dog food off-the-shelf, look for dog food that has been approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This organization is responsible for determining levels of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals in pet food.

How much food should you give?

Your veterinarian will give you strict guidelines on your dog’s food consumption based on your dog’s weight and advancement of diabetes. To give you an example of how human food translates into dog food consumption, I’ve included the chart below:


Partners for Healthy Pets published the following:

Snack (fed to a 20 lb. dog) / Human Caloric Equivalent

1 Small Cookie
1 Hamburger
1 oz. Cheddar Cheese
1½ Hamburgers
1 Hot Dog
2½ Hamburgers



Everything is fine when the doctor is nearby, but what happens when you get home? Change is never easy. To help you out, I’ve created an easy-to-follow management guide to help keep your new schedule on track

 You now have a complete package of information to push your dog toward a long, happy life. Please take a second to share with family, friends, and other dog lovers like you.


The Fickle Phases of Leptospirosis in Dogs

Leptospirosis in dogs is caused by the spirochete bacteria. This bacteria infects dogs and humans. If not diagnosed early, the prognosis is dire.

Warmer weather means swimming, camping, hiking, and biking.  Tropical or subtropical climates present an increased risk of infection and disease from waterborne pathogens.

Studies show a global increase in cases of canine leptospirosis.  Perhaps it’s a sign of climate change.  We’ve all seen the devastating images of mass flooding on the news. Floodwater of that nature pulls in a wide variety of pathogens that thrive for a long time. It only takes one infected animal to contaminate an entire body of water.

Leptospirosis in dogs is transmitted when the dog:

  • drinks from infected urine
  • is in contact with other domestic animals who have it (through skin cuts, eyes, mouth)
  • drinks or swims in urine-contaminated water (floodwater, rivers, etc.)
  • interacts or lives in close proximity to infected livestock or wildlife

The bacteria lives up to six months in urine-contaminated water. Even the damp soil can harbor the bacteria. This creates a risk of infection through scratches, scrapes, open wounds, and mucous membranes.  Dogs can transmit the bacteria to humans. However, the number of reported cases is relatively low.

The Worst Sign of Infection is No Infection At All.

Early detection of leptospirosis in canines is treatable. The problem lies in the difficulty of diagnosis.  The most commonly seen patients are considered “clinically inapparent”.  That simply meaning the dog has no obvious symptoms.

In the beginning stages, the dog is lethargic and appears under-the-weather.  The reality is that most of the time, there really isn’t anything seriously wrong with the dog.  However, if you’ve been near floodwater recently or live in a susceptible area, ask the veterinarian to test for leptospirosis.   Better safe than sorry.

Once a diagnosis has been made, the veterinarian will assess whether the dog is in one of the four following categories:

  • per-acute
  • acute
  • sub-acute –  most common
  • chronic


In the acute and sub-acute stages of the disease, clinical signs are evident. Unfortunately, that could mean a grave progression in the disease. Renal failure and liver damage are the top two concerns.  If the dog has developed a cough, it’s likely the bacteria has compromised the lungs.

Watch the video below for a discussion on leptospirosis in dogs. Dr. Becker discusses the risks, signs, and symptoms.  Video embedded from YouTube:


Lyme Disease:  The “Second Cousin” of Leptospirosis

You might be surprised to learn that there as many as 230 types of leptospira bacteria and that eight of them are known to cause disease in dogs. The four strains that commonly result in canine infection are:

  • Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiea
  • L. canicola
  • L. grippotyphosa
  • L. pomona

The Borrelia burgdorferi strain of bacteria falls under the larger umbrella and is known to cause Lyme disease .

Leptospirosis Risk Map and Endemic Tick Population Map

The Fickle Phases of Leptospirosis

As frightening as the clinical signs and symptoms seem (see below), the reality is that many dogs present with vague symptoms that could be mistaken for any number of things.  The dog might lack energy, refuse to eat, vomit, or have diarrhea.  In fact, the dog might even appear to recover after a few days.  There’s relief in the eye of the hurricane, until you realize it’s back with a vengeance.

The second phase of leptospirosis erupts with fury, striking its victims with intense symptoms including:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anorexia – the dog will not/cannot eat
  • Vomiting – perhaps with blood
  • Painful Abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased urination
  • Abnormally rapid breathing
  • fever
  • severe pain in the joints
  • jaundice – often first seen as yellowing in the eyes
  • renal failure
  • liver failure
  • combined renal and liver failure associated with the infection is known as “Weil’s disease”

Eradicating The Disease Through Appropriate Vaccination

The days of many crippling or deadly infectious diseases are seemingly behind us now. The use of vaccines eradicated a host of once-feared diseases such as:

  • smallpox
  • polio
  • whooping cough
  • measles
  • tuberculosis
  • rabies

It’s been over 200 years since the first vaccine was discovered.  Immunization can be credited with saving approximately 9 million lives a year worldwide, and yet there remains skepticism from particular groups on the safety and necessity of inoculation.

There are roughly 100 – 150 outbreaks of leptospirosis in the United States every year.  Over 1 million cases happen globally with an average of 60,000 deaths.

CDC, “Leptospirosis Face Sheet for Clinicians”


American Animal Hospital Association Leptospirosis Vaccination Guidelines

The AAHA does not recommend that dogs be immunized for leptospirosis unless they live in a part of the world considered high-risk.  Avoiding absolutely unnecessary vaccinations eliminates the side-effect risk factors including:

  1. Facial swelling
  2. Hives
  3. Deadly anaphylactic shock

The controversy surrounding the vaccines offered before 2004 was heightened by the short-term gain stacked against the risks.  In 2004, a new vaccine released by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals was considered safer and longer lasting. The newer vaccines have essentially removed the unwanted “extras” from the formulation, resulting in fewer side-effects.

It’s suggested that dogs in at-risk areas should only be vaccinated against leptospirosis at 12 weeks of age.  That is considered the absolute minimum age, with an average age of inoculation between 14 and 16 weeks.

Dog Deaths Cause Controversy Over Vaccine

There have always been segments of the population against vaccinations.  The reality is that no vaccination can provide 100% protection, and the risks generally associated with inoculations (from mild to fatal) are considered a lesser worry than the proliferation of the disease itself.

The following video highlights fears and hysteria surrounding the leptospirosis vaccine. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s always worth debating both sides of the equation.

While the debate over the safety of vaccines continues around the world, leptospirosis continues to infect livestock, wildlife, canines, and humans.


 A small study performed in Baghdad revealed these results:
  • 565 serum samples were taken from cattle, sheep, and goats
  • 260 cattle
  • 171 sheep
  • 134 goats
The above animals were screened for the presence of leptospiral antibodies and the results showed:
  •  57.3% prevalence in cattle
  • 24.6% prevalence in sheep
  • 22.4% prevalence in goats.


The veterinarian will suspect leptospirosis based on a history of the dog’s recent activities, geographic location, and physical symptoms.  It’s important to let the veterinarian know about any and all outdoor excursions as far back as six months.  While the bacteria will die instantly when subjected to hot and dry conditions, it can easily survive up to 180 days in the right climate.

A variety of diagnostic tests including blood and urine analysis will be conducted. If leptospirosis is being considered, the veterinarian will recommend caution when handling the dog as the disease can be transmitted from animal to human.  A more likely scenario would involve the dog spreading infection to other animals.

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, the dog will be placed on antibiotics right away. He/she will also be treated symptomatically to alleviate immediate issues like dehydration and pain.


To reduce the risks associated with this particular pathogen, avoid:

  • walking through floodwater
  • avoid rivers (no swimming!) after a heavy rainfall
  • if your drinking water is questionable, boiling or chemically treating it will kill the bacteria.
  • discourage wildlife and rodents from your property
  • treat any cuts and scrapes with protective covering

At The End of The Day…

Use common sense around potentially contaminated water systems. Don’t drink, wash, or bath in rivers or other bodies of water that could be infected with the urine of contaminated wildlife.

Dog parks are the perfect place to give your dog some space to run, but be mindful of interactions with other dogs.  We all love to be “kissed” by our favorite pouch, but considering the contagious nature of leptospirosis, it might be a habit best left aside, especially if you live in a wet climate.  Please view the map above to identify the risks inherent in your neighborhood.

Has your dog been diagnosed with leptospirosis? What did you do?

Please share!



DISCLAIMER:  LISA is not a veterinarian, nor does she play one on TV. While she tries to provide the most relevant, quality content, mistakes can happen. Please do not rely on this blog for your pet’s medical needs. See a veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and follow-up treatment.

Lisa is dedicated to writing a high-quality blog based on professionally researched data. Her time is spent writing and researching balanced with enjoying family life with her husband and two dogs.

Lisa’s writing skills emerged at an early age. Over time, her fiction has been published in various literary magazines. She has also written for non-fiction journals internationally.

Dogs are Lisa’s passion, and blogging is the means to direct her energy towards their well-being on a global scale.

To find out what Lisa is really about…click here.



The Foremost Authority on Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Vestibular disease in dogs is a common occurrence, but a scary situation when you don’t know what’s happening. The condition, also known as Old Dog Disease, tends to happen out-of-the-blue.

Your dog will spin in circles, his/her eyes will dart back-and-forth, or up-and-down, and will appear to be in a drunken state.  Most people tend to think the worst, but there’s a good chance it’s a benign inner-ear problem.

Read on…I want to show you the symptoms, signs, variations, and treatment options for vestibular disorders in dogs.

Check out the infographic glossary of clinical terms at the end of this article!

Does Vestibular Disease in Dogs Have to do With Their Ears?

Yes. Vestibular disease in dogs is related to the inner ear canal. There can be a clinical reason for the condition, but oftentimes it’s labelled as “idiopathic”, meaning no clinical reason could be found.

We refer to it as a “disease”, but it’s really a set of issues affecting the dog’s vestibular system.

Symptoms of Vestibular Disease in Dogs.

  • Tipped head to the side. 
  • Wobbling around in a dizzy state.
  • Vomiting
  • Circling 
  • Nystagmus (darting eyes) In this case, the dog’s eyes might be rolling, horizontal, or vertical.

Check out the physical examination in this YouTube video!

What if it’s NOT Vestibular Disease?

There is a possibility that it could be something more serious, which is why you should always bring your dog to the veterinarian when he/she is experiencing symptoms like the ones listed above.


  • Tipped head to the side:

This could be caused by an ear infection.

  • Wobbling around in a dizzy state:

There could be any number of reasons for this including possible poisoning, stroke, head trauma, tumor, and encephalitis. 

  • Vomiting:

It’s not unusual for dogs to vomit, especially if they’ve eaten too fast or nabbed some old food from the compost. If the vomiting doesn’t match the circumstances, it could be a sign of poisoning (chocolate, toxic plants), parasitic infection, bowel obstruction, upset stomach, or motion sickness.

  • Circling:

You’ve probably seen your dog chase his/her tail, spinning around at the same time.  The kind of circling we’re talking about here is different.  In the case of vestibular syndrome, it will occur suddenly. It might also be a sign of a tumor, onset of stroke, or head trauma/cognitive dysfunction.

  • Nystagmus:

Nystagmus, or darting eyes, is a common symptom of vestibular disease. The darting eyes are an involuntary action that might be cause by an middle ear infection or a ruptured ear drum, head trauma, cancer, hypothyroidism, encephalitis.

This video was taken from Twitter. The kind owner of this dog wants to help inform others about the issue of vestibular disease in dogs.


Gently lift one of your dog’s front paws and flip it over so that the pads are face-up. If your dog flips his own paw back to normal without assistance, there’s a good chance your dog isn’t having a stroke.

IMPORTANT: The tip above should ease your worries a bit, but it’s still not a substitution for a veterinarian check-up.

Tell the veterinarian that you tried this test and give him/her the results. If some time has passed since you last tried it, the veterinarian may want to try it for verification.



Three-fourths of vestibular disorders in people are considered peripherally based. The most common disorder for people is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.  This type of disorder involves the middle and inner ear.

I have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and when it flares up, it feels as if the whole world tips upside down whenever I move my head. It makes me nauseous, dizzy, unsteady on my feet, and…quite frankly…like shaking my head. I can easily see how these symptoms also relate to dogs.

-LA Theriault

Peripheral disorders happen when there is irritation or a lesion in the nerves that send signals to the inner ear. Dogs with peripheral vestibular disease will have darting eyes in the direction of the lesion.


Central vestibular disease isn’t as commonly diagnosed. It refers to disorders that affect the brain stem and cerebellum.  Although dogs will exhibit the same signs noted above, other symptoms might also be present. These include:

  • Unusual posture
  • Unusual mental state
  • Some facial paralysis might be present
  • reduced sensation in the face
  • slow movement of the tongue
  • reduced gag reflex
  • eye-twitching up-and-down and NOT side-to-side.

These additional signs and symptoms are related to brain stem dysfunction.


Vestibular Disease in dogs refers to an inner-ear condition.  The disease could be peripheral (the eyes dart side-to-side), or the more rarely diagnosed central vestibular disease (the eyes do not dart in the direction of the lesion)

If no known cause can be identified, the condition is considered idiopathic. However, if the condition is identified as being central, it’s more likely that a central cause will be identified.

Distinct symptoms that you won’t find in central vestibular disease:

  • Eyes that dart in different directions, independent of themselves. The term for this is disconjugate nystamus.  This is rarely seen in both central and peripheral vestibular conditions
  • Direction of eye-darting (nystagmus) changes when the position of the animal is changed. This is rarely seen in central vestibular conditions. It is never seen in cases of peripheral vestibular disease

FACT:  Any vestibular disease in dogs (whether it’s considered peripheral or central) can still be considered idiopathic if the veterinarian isn’t able to establish an underlying cause.


During the exam, the veterinarian will perform some tests to identify vestibular disease. The doctor will first perform a physical examination. He/she will look into the dog’s eyes, assess gait and response.

In addition to a physical exam, the veterinarian will want to know the dog’s history. He/she will also want to know if your dog has exhibited signs like this in the past (recent or distant).

He/she will want to know when you noticed the problem, where the dog was, what the dog has eaten, whether or not the dog has been treated for worms, and whether or not the dog has any other chronic conditions.

If the veterinarian isn’t satisfied with the results so far, he/she may order blood tests.


If your dog was perfectly fine one minute and exhibiting these sudden symptoms (with no other indication of infection, poisoning, or stroke), the veterinarian is likely to diagnose a vestibular condition.

The veterinarian will want to know if your dog has been on antibiotics recently. Overusing antibiotics, specifically one called metronidazole, has been shown to cause toxicity in some dogs, at certain dosages.  The Journal of Veterinary Medicine reports that the dosage doesn’t even have to be particularly high.

How Will I Know if my Dog Has Taken Metronidazole?

To find out whether your dog has taken this particular antibiotic, ask your veterinarian (current or past) for a list of the medications that have been prescribed to your dog.

Metronidazole is used to treat infections in dogs. It also stops the growth of bacteria and parasites. The side-effects of this drug can include dizziness, headache, stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Was this article useful to you?  If so, please share it with your people.  Thanks!



























Your Complete Guide to Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs

You’re worried about your dog because of some symptoms you’ve noticed recently.  Maybe you picked up on a cough your dog developed, or noticed some changes in your dog’s energy level.  It’s possible your dog is having trouble breathing properly.

Of course, you’re worried.

If you haven’t brought your dog to the veterinarian yet, but your mind has jumped to the worst-case scenario, I want to help bring your panic level down with solid information on what heart disease/heart failure really is, the difference between the two, how heart disease is diagnosed, and the treatments available.

Canine cardiologists see heart disease as a chronic problem requiring long-term treatment.  They do not see it as a death sentence.

If the veterinarian believes your dog has heart disease, ask whether it’s early stage or late stage. Treatment options and outcomes will depend on whether any heart damage has already been done.

Let me try to break this down for you…


Heart Disease is a group of conditions that cause wear and tear on the heart muscle, leaving patients at risk for heart failure.

Heart Failure happens when disease has weakened or damaged the heart. When this happens, the heart can’t pump enough blood through the dog’s system. This is a chronic condition requiring long-term treatment.

Getting the Right Diagnosis Takes Time

If your dog is older and you’ve noticed a persistent cough, you are right in assuming that something is wrong. Presenting with a simple cough isn’t enough for a veterinarian to make a diagnosis of heart disease. The cough is what you see and hear on the outside.  In order to identify swelling or damage to the heart, the veterinarian has to have a look inside.

A recent article by the Cardiac Education Group ( reports that:

“chronic bronchitis is the most common cause of chronic coughing in mature dogs…”

A full work-up is required to diagnose heart disease in dogs.  That means the vet will want to do some blood tests and a thoracic radiograph.  The veterinarian will also ask about the dog’s history relative to how long he/she has been having symptoms.  He/she will want to see the inside of your dog’s mouth for coloring (pale, bluish gums signify lack of oxygen) and will ask a variety of questions meant to narrow down the possibilities.

  “Not All dogs with heart failure cough, and not all coughs are associated with heart failure.”  Dr. Sonya Gordon, Associate Professor of Cardiology, Texas A&M University.

A thoracic radiograph (x-ray) presents an image of your dog’s heart which will show whether the organ is enlarged or not. Thoracic radiographs (chest x-rays) are non-invasive and painless.  

To get an accurate cross-sectional analysis of the heart, two images are taken.  First, your dog will be laid on his/her side in order to get the best picture.  It’s important for your dog to be as still as possible and, in some cases, sedatives might be necessary.

Once that’s finished, your dog will be rolled onto his back and a front-chest image will be taken.

Taking a cross sectional image of the heart enables the veterinarian to determine whether the heart is actually enlarged, or normal in proportion to the dog’s size and breed.

 “Cardiac enlargement is usually present by the time heart disease has progressed to heart failure.” 

-Dr. Rebecca L. Stepien, Clinical Professor, School or Veterinarian Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


  1. MITRAL VALVE DISEASE (MVD) is what’s known as a heart murmur. It’s typically diagnosed in puppies showing no symptoms. As the disease progresses, you may notice more coughing and your dog won’t be able to exert himself through exercise or play.  Mitral Valve Disease is responsible for ¾ of all canine heart disease.

When MVD is discovered early, the dog can be treated with medication.  That medication helps to ease the burden placed on the heart, manages blood pressure and controls fluid retention.


  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Shih Tzu
  • Maltese
  • Toy Poodle

Listen to this short video to hear what a dog’s cough could sound like:


  1. CARDIOMYOPATHY: Any disease that negatively affects the heart is referred to as cardiomyopathy.  This type of disease falls under three categories:
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This is the most common and refers to the heart muscle’s inability to pump efficiently. Dilated cardiomyopathy is caused by an enlarged heart, which leads to poor circulation, irregular heartbeat, and heart failure.

LARGE BREEDS more susceptible to dilated cardiomyopathy include the Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Irish Wolfhound, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, and the Doberman Pinscher.  These breeds tend to become symptomatic in middle to later life.

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This condition affects a portion of the heart that becomes thickened. Symptoms may include fatigue, swelling, fainting, or heart failure.  When discovered early, this can be treated with medication.  In some cases, an implantable cardiac defibrillator might be recommended.  Generally, this would be reserved for dogs who don’t respond well to other treatment measures.  There is no known, identifiable cause for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

  • Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

Restricted cardiomyopathy is less common than the other two and involves the heart valves becoming more rigid and not being able to stretch properly. This particular type of disease is rare and because of that, limited data is available.


Veterinarians/cardiologists want to be certain the dog actually has heart disease before beginning treatment.  In addition to listening for cough, respiration rate, and radiograph analysis, the veterinarian will also take into consideration the age, size, and breed of the dog.

Before the doctor makes a diagnosis of heart disease, he/she will want to rule out other causes including:


Heart worm is spread by mosquitos carrying the heartworm larvae. Dogs who live in hot, humid climates where there is a high mosquito population might be prone to heartworm. Symptoms, which include coughing and tiredness, could easily be mistaken for heart disease in an older dog. 

Heart worms are long and stringy, much like a piece of spaghetti. They infiltrate the heart and lungs, and if left to reproduce, cause permanent damage resulting in heart disease and death.


COPD occurs when the dog’s airway becomes inflamed.  The first thing you’ll notice is the cough, which is likely the reason you brought your dog to the veterinarian in the first place.

While doctors are unable to narrow down any specific cause for this disease, it’s thought to be a result of long-term exposure to airborne irritants. Tobacco smoke, pollution, smog, chemical exposure, and allergens could all contribute to the disease. 

COPD is characterized by a dry, gagging cough that mimics the symptoms of heart failure.


Fluid in the lungs will make a dog cough. The dog will be tired because of the inability to absorb enough oxygen into his system. In addition, a dog with pneumonia isn’t going to be able to easily take a deep breath which results in a faster respiratory rate, as indicated above.  Your dog will probably have a fever and low appetite.


The difference in a cough caused by lung cancer as opposed to heart disease involves the spitting up of blood.  This is the most common cancer in dogs over 10 years of age.  Lung cancer spreads very quickly to other parts of the body including the organs, lymph nodes, bones, brain, and eyes.

If the veterinarian were to spend too much time on a false assumption of heart disease, something like this could be overlooked and, by the time it becomes apparent, could be too late.


Have you traveled recently? Left your dog at a kennel? Kennel cough produces a terrible-sounding cough that would strike fear in the hearts of any dog owners.  Thankfully, it’s not considered a serious illness and can be treated with medications.

A dog is exposed to kennel cough the same way humans are exposed to colds and flu. Our immune systems become compromised, leaving us vulnerable to viruses.  The same thing happens to dogs. Dogs exposed to cigarette smoke, cold temperatures, or conditions like those seen in kennels are more likely to succumb to viral infections like kennel cough.

Treatment includes antibiotics. It’s also important to note that your dog can be vaccinated if he/she might be at higher risk.


If the veterinarian isn’t able to make a definitive diagnosis right away, he/she may ask you to monitor your dog’s respiration rates for about a week.

*Important: Please take your dog to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. The following explanation is designed to give you an awareness of the procedure, not substitute an emergency visit.

Dog owners are often keenly aware of out-of-the-ordinary signs and symptoms. Have you noticed a change in your dog’s breathing rate?  If so, make sure to mention it to the veterinarian. You don’t have to know the exact respiration rate. Simply telling the doctor that you’ve noticed faster breathing will help tremendously.


If you’ve ever had pneumonia, you understand how hard it is to take a deep breath. That’s because the lungs are holding water (edema).  When restricted that way, the lungs can’t expand and when that happens, your breathing rate becomes shallow.

The next time your dog curls up beside you, watch and count how often the chest rises within a 1 minute span.  COUNT ONE BREATH FOR THE ENTIRE RISE AND FALL OF THE CHEST DURING BREATH INTAKE.

  • Most dogs at rest will have a respiratory rate between 15 – 30 breaths per minute. REMEMBER: One breath includes the full rise and fall of the chest during inhalation and exhalation.
  • 35 breaths per minute is considered the cut-off, or maximum for most dogs.
  • Hot, recently active, or anxious dogs will normally experience a higher respiration rate, but it shouldn’t remain that way.
  • Breathing rates noticeably and consistently higher than 35 is a cause for concern.

It’s best if you have already established a baseline for your dog’s normal breathing rate, but most people don’t think of that when enjoying the companionship of a healthy dog.

That’s okay!  As mentioned above, simply noticing a faster breathing rate and telling the veterinarian about it is a huge help in aiding a fast diagnosis.

You might notice an increased respiration rate before your dog develops a cough


If clinical signs don’t immediately point to heart disease, the veterinarian might suggest a broad-spectrum antibiotic to take care of any infectious disease that could be present.

If symptoms improve after a few days of antibiotics, the veterinarian will be reasonably assured that the presenting symptoms are not related to heart disease.  However, depending on a number of factors (age, other health conditions, obesity), the veterinarian may still want you to monitor the dog’s conditions weeks after the last dose of medication in case the symptoms return. 


Okay, the worst part – the waiting – is over.  Now you know what you’re dealing with and the veterinarian will be able to customized a treatment plan specific to your dog’s needs.

The veterinarian should use a combination of the following classifications to record your dog’s disease progression.



Class I     The dog shows no obvious systems of heart disease, even with heavy exercise.

Class II    The dog only shows clinical signs and symptoms during or after hard exercise.

Class III   A dog in this classification will exhibit signs and symptoms of heart disease doing moderate kinds of everyday activity.

Class IV   At this level, the dog is showing severe signs of heart disease, even when at rest.


Stage A.  In Stage A, the dog may be at higher risk of developing heart disease but has no immediate signs and symptoms that warrant deeper investigation.

Stage B.  The dog might have a heart murmur, but shows no signs of having developed heart failure.

  • B1 – The dog has no telltale symptoms of heart disease. Radiograph and echocardiogram show no evidence of disease.
  • B2 – A murmur could be present, but the dog hasn’t developed signs of heart failure or enlarged heart.

Stage C.  At this stage, heart disease has progressed but the dog can still be treated on an outpatient basis.

Stage D:  At stage 4, the heart disease has progressed to a higher level of seriousness that could result in death. All of the stages mentioned above are designed as guidelines to determine the best treatment options.

Identify symptomatic dogs with advanced heart failure from CVHD and refractory to conventional therapy—these patients require aggressive or new treatment strategies or potentially hospice‐type end‐of‐life care


Maintaining muscle mass in a dog with congestive heart failure is vital in preserving strength.  The clinical term for muscle wasting is cachexia.

Dogs with heart disease will often experience fluctuations in appetite ranging from sudden changes in food preference (known as dysrexia), to a reduction in the amount of food eaten (known as hyporexia) or a complete loss of appetite (known as anorexia). In order to extend your dog’s life, it’s important to maintain a high-protein diet using healthy foods suggested by the vet.

Your veterinarian will have specialized food for sale; however, you might be in a good position to make the dog’s food using beef, chicken, or fish. 


At this stage of your dog’s life, the most important thing is feeding him/her protein from appropriate sources.  Dogs with heart disease tend to be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, and you want to be sure that whatever you are feeding your dog adds these things to the diet.

Be prepared to change your dog’s food fairly often to make sure he’s getting the right ratio of nutrition that your dog specifically needs.  The most common deficiencies associated with heart disease in dogs include:

TAURINE:  A building block for protein best obtained from meat and fish products. Taurine supports heart, brain, retina, and blood cell function. Although researchers are unable to specify exactly how taurine aids in the treatment of heart disease, it’s thought that this amino sulfonic acid eases nervous system functioning and may reduce blood pressure.

OMEGA-3 Fatty Acids: This fatty acid is normally only found in low doses from the dog’s diet, but can easily be supplemented. It’s thought to benefit dogs with heart disease because of the reduced inflammatory effects .

MINERALS:  Dogs with heart disease might be prescribed a diuretic to reduce edema (swelling) in the lungs.  However, long-term use of diuretics can dilute the amount of minerals the body needs for health.  Without these minerals in the body, dogs will become weaker and at increased risk of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).

VITAMIN B: Vitamins are also lost through the urine in dogs prescribed diuretics.  Not all commercial brand dog food contains the recommended amount of B vitamins (specifically, B6 and B12).  To make sure your dog is getting the recommended dose, use dog food formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.  Your vet will be the best guide in this situation.

  “If owners are feeding their animals home-cooked diets, a variety of vitamin (and other deficiencies” are possible. Studies have shown that, unless formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, nearly all home-cooked diets are nutritionally unbalanced.” – Dr. Lisa Freeman, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University.


  • baby food
  • bread
  • cheese
  • lunch meat
  • cold cuts
  • most pet treats
  • rawhides
  • bully stick

The food choices mentioned above are often high in salt and do not provide the necessary nutrients for dogs; specifically, dogs at risk of heart failure.

Do not leave the veterinarian’s office with a vague idea of what a heart disease diet should look like. If your veterinarian is not specific about a diet, make sure to ask.  This is going to be a lifestyle change for you and your dog. Unlearning certain dietary behaviors is paramount to ensuring a good quality of life for your dog.


The bottom line is that there’s hope.  You knew the day would come when your aging dog’s health would decline.  When you’re finally faced with a serious, chronic illness like heart disease, it can be an emotional roller coaster.  The overall longevity of your dog and his/her quality of life from this point rests on your shoulders.

Be prepared to spend more money on:

  • More frequent visits to the veterinarian
  • Specialized dog food diets
  • Laboratory tests
  • Radiographs or x-rays
  • Echocardiograms
  • Prescription Medication
  • and possible surgery

Ideally, you would have pet insurance to stay ahead of the financial expense. However, if you don’t fall into that category, don’t be afraid to shop around the best price. And don’t worry! There aren’t that many people who can immediately afford these tests. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your dog.

If money is a problem, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a less-expensive clinic or discuss what other options might be available. Dogs are family, and we always want to do what’s best for family.

I really hope you were able to learn something valuable in this article and now, I’d like to ask you to share this with friends and/or family.  Whether you’re just in the process of getting a puppy, or nurturing a geriatric dog, anybody can find useful information on how to prevent and treat heart disease in dogs.

Go ahead!  Share through Twitter, LinkedIn, or facebook.

Thank you for your time.



Foods You Should Never Feed Your Dog Infographic Infographic by: Tal of San Franciso, CA


Co-Founder & CMO of A true geek that loves Infographics & Data Visualizations, Sports and everything related to Thundercats and Baking.
























7 Ugly Truths About Lyme Disease in Dogs

Did you know that a vaccination against Lyme disease in dogs is no guarantee that they won’t contract the illness?  Even so, it’s important to take every precaution available to help prevent dogs from contracting the disease.

Lyme disease doesn’t go away. Your dog can be treated for active symptoms, but the disease remains in the body for the lifetime of the dog. It’s no different if you or I were infected.

1. Vaccinations Are No Guarantee Against Lyme Disease in Dogs

It’s still important to have your dog vaccinated, and here’s why:

  • Lyme Disease is a common tick-borne disease worldwide.
  • The most common clinical effect of Lyme disease in dogs is inflammation of the joints.
  • Dogs may also suffer from lack of appetite and depression.
  • In some cases, Lyme disease causes damage to the kidneys.
  • Rarely, the disease will progress to the heart and/or nervous system.

2. Not All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease

  • The ticks that carry Lyme disease are the ones that transmit the bacteria known as

    Borrelia burgdorferi.

  • This microorganism is from the Spirochete family and resembles spiral-shaped worms. The only ticks known to carry this bacterium are the Eastern Black-Legged Tick (some call them Deer ticks), and the Western Black-Legged Tick.

    3. Lyme Disease has a Complicated Relationship With  Dogs

  • Lyme Disease in dogs is a complicated situation in which many variables can take place.
  • Veterinarians feel that treating a dog as close to the time of infection as possible reduces the antibodies faster.
  • Lyme Disease doesn’t really ever go away, even with repeated antibiotics.
  • As with people, antibiotics work best when administered less than 48 hours after the bite.
  • Dogs who test positive, but who show no symptoms, are still treated with antibiotics to reduce the antibodies and minimize long-term clinical complications.

4. It’s Rare for a Dog to Die From Lyme Disease

This one surprised me. I always thought the diagnosis of Lyme disease in dogs was a death sentence, but research shows that is not true.

The prognosis is compromised if the bacterium damage the kidneys.  Regardless, your dog is still left with a permanent, painful disease that requires care and the possibility of repeated doses of antibiotics as flare-ups occur.

I suspect most veterinarians would prefer not to extend antibiotic use for fear of antibiotic resistance and further weakening of the dog’s immune system.

5. I Don’t Want to Go Outside Anymore!

I’ve felt like that myself; however, there are lots of things you can do to prevent tick bites from happening.

  • I use a monthly oral medication for my dogs and it works extremely well. The medication is absorbed into the dog’s fatty tissue (especially around the upper body and neck where ticks are most likely to bite). It’s safe for the dogs but fatal for the ticks.
  • Don’t let your dog romp through tall grass and keep your lawn mowed as short as possible.
  • Remember to also treat any cats in your house with topical tick treatments. Outside cats are the worst offenders because they carry ticks into the home, then flick them off with their rough tongues.
  • Check your pets regularly for ticks by combing through the fur. Personally, I take my fingers and run them all around the dogs’ ears neck and back. I check their armpits, groin, and top of the head.

6. Ticks Are Gross And I Don’t Want to Pick Them Off of My Dog!

They are really disgusting creatures and I don’t blame you. But for the sake of your dog, you have to.

Find out how I handled my first experience with ticks here.

  • Use tweezers
  • Grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible
  • Pull up and at a slight angle
  • It’s thought that if you pinch the tick’s abdomen to pull it out, the tick will release more toxins into the dog’s body.

As YUCK as it is, this requires attention. You can’t close your eyes and give it a yank because you could leave the head of the tick embedded in your dog, leaving it open to infection.

7. Check Yourself For Ticks

It’s important to check your clothes and your skin as soon as you enter the house. I’ve had ticks on my ankles just from taking a walk down the street where long grass lines the ditch. Obviously, if you live in a city, this isn’t going to be the case (hopefully!).


  • AT THE DOOR: Remove your hat, jacket, and socks.  Pull your socks inside out and scan for anything crawling. Look on the top and insides of your cap/hat. Lift the tongue of your shoes and look inside and around the shoe opening for ticks.
  • IN THE BATHROOM: Strip down completely. Ticks like to make their way to where there is the most blood flow. Check the back of your knees, buttocks, back, armpits, neck and hair.  Also check behind your ears.


To sum it all up, it’s only the Eastern black-legged tick and the Western black-legged tick that carries the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease.

Remember: Lyme Disease is the most prevalent, but it’s not the only disease carried by ticks.

As mentioned above, clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs includes painful joints, stiff back and/or gait, lack of appetite and depression.

Ticks need to be removed from your pet ASAP. Have your dog vaccinated and tested for Lyme disease, especially if you live in an area where the tick population is endemic.


And finally, the best place to get advice on the best preventative tick treatments for your dog is at the veterinarian’s office.